transfer 25(2) » Rezeptions- und Wirkungsforschung

No Interest in Artificial Intelligence?

An Experimental Study on the Influence of News and Media Contexts on Interest in Artificial Intelligence in Germany

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to dramatically affect our everyday lives and alter our society. However, as studies show, most German people seem to lack any kind of significant interest in AI and believe advancements in the field of AI will have little to no effect on them personally.

In order to investigate how interest in AI could be increased via the media, a 2×2 priming experiment was designed which 203 German citizens between the ages of 16-80 participated in. It was argued that by priming topics, interest in AI would likely increase. Priming, as Scheufele (2016) understands it, is a theoretical concept which at its core argument states that certain concepts, thoughts and or opinions are more readily available within the human cognitive processes because they have been engaged more frequently (frequent priming) or more recently (recent priming). They, therefore, play an enlarged role during opinion-building or evaluation processes. Two differing fields of application of AI technologies (climate change and cyber-crime), as well as potential risks and benefits of AI were primed with the hope that increases in interest in AI relative to the primed topic and risk or benefit would be observed. To investigate the expected increase in interest, the Risk Information Seeking and Processing (RISP) model, developed by Griffin et al. (1999), was applied and a quantitative analysis was conducted using the Statistics Program for the Social Sciences (SPSS).

While, overall, the collected data resulted in a very solid information seeking model and accounted for 39% of the explained variance, the desired priming effects failed to materialize in any significant form. Possible reasons for these outcomes are discussed at length and future avenues of research are explored.